The only thing that square dancers like to do better than dance is have a pot luck. Non-dancers often say, “All that dancing must help you loose weight!” Maybe, if we would quit the potluck habit. Since that is NEVER going to happen, we need aprons to cover up our dresses while in the kitchen.
Many apron patterns are available, but the skirt part will have to be made longer and wider. Ladies aprons need to be long enough and wide enough to cover the skirt. After all the work we put into sewing these special outfits we need to protect them. Use an apron pattern as a guide to make a square dance apron that is bigger and better. Don’t leave the men out of the kitchen. Look for men’s bar-b-que style aprons in the pattern books. The bar-b-que style aprons do not work as well on ladies dresses because they do not cover the sides. Aprons are very easy to sew.
When making aprons start with sturdy tightly woven fabric such as poplin or light denim. Don’t choose a soft or loosely woven fabric because liquid will go right through. Absorbent fabric, such as terry cloth, will pass spills through to the dress. Ruffles and pockets can trap spills instead of allowing them to roll off. Keep aprons plain and functional. Making the straps and ties adjustable will accommodate different size dancers.
Is there a space in the kitchen where aprons could be hung that would be accessible to everybody? They could be made in club colors with the club name or logo. Then when dancers took the aprons home to be washed they would remember to return them. Having matching aprons to designate ‘The Kitchen Crew’ could help control excess traffic in the area. Spills and burns can be reduced by limiting the number of people in the kitchen to those wearing aprons.
Kitchens can be very dangerous places. To reduce the chance of burns keep the kitchen well supplied with heavy oven mitts for protecting your hands. Skimpy little hot pads do not provide enough protection when removing heavy casserole dishes from the oven. Oven mitts and hot pads are very easy to make. The very best padding to protect the hands is wool, covered in cotton fabric. An old wool Army type blanket from the thrift store can be used to make a lot of oven mitts and hot pads. Only use cotton fabric to cover mitts and pads because polyester fabric will melt. Oven mitts do not have to be perfect. They are going to to be used and abused. It is more important for them to be protective than pretty.
When planning for a potluck make sure there are enough large hot pads available to protect the table. Make placemat sized hot pads. The padding can be pieces of old blankets, mattress pads or quilting batting. Don’t try to make them perfect. They will not last forever. When they get scorched or stained just toss them out and make some new ones.
If you make a large hot pad to fit under your own casserole dish it can be tucked into the carrier when your take it to the dance. CorningWare and Pyrex have portable casserole dishes that come with snap on plastic lids, their own carrying case and a special packet that can be headed or cooled to keep the dishes at the proper temperature. These carriers are easy to clean and very sturdy. They are more efficient and stronger than the home made variety. To keep food really hot prepare it, and take it, in a slow cooker.
Hamilton Beach as a line of slow cookers called ‘Stay or Go’. They feature locks that keep the lid on tight. I put mine in the sink of the motor home when we are traveling. It sits there and cooks all day and the lid stays put through construction zones and dirt roads. Slow cookers can be plugged in when you get to the hall and the food will stay at the proper temperature until you are ready to eat.
Potlucks and other functions allow us time for talking and getting to know the other dancers. It is wonderful that people from a variety backgrounds can join together in our favorite activity and share a meal. Just as square dancing is made of parts of different ethnic dances our potlucks can celebrate our diversity in their mix of our favorite foods.